Demond T. Martin and Karen A. Popp stand with their families in front of new Student Union sign. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Exponential Celebration took place in the newly renamed Popp & Martin Student Union today at noon.

The naming honors two distinguished alumni; Karen A. Popp, a lawyer, and Demon T. Martin, a graduate of the University Transitional Opportunities Program who now works in the financial services industry.

Both gave “lead gifts” to a UNC Charlotte campaign, which launched today at the event.

“Exponential: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte” is the largest campaign in the University’s history, with a goal of $200 million. The money raised will benefit current and future students.

“We hope that each person who receives the message with be inspired to join us with their gift and that we will see a truly exponential impact of giving from our alumni and friends around the world,” said Chair of the Campaign Executive Committee Gene Johnson.

Audience members fill the newly renamed Student Union during the Exponential Celebration. Photo by Chris Crews.
Audience members fill the newly renamed Popp & Martin Student Union during the Exponential Celebration. Photo by Chris Crews.

$80 million will go towards opportunities such as scholarships for students of all backgrounds. $40 million will cover resources such as experiential learning, study abroad programs, internships and connections to employers. $50 million will go towards recruiting world class faculty to the school and carrying out research. $30 million will fund impact such as a data science initiative.

By the time of its launch, the campaign had already privately raised over $115 million.

Popp has served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. She is the second alumna to serve as the Board of Trustees chair and is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame.

Popp was the first women elected as Student Body President at UNC Charlotte.

Martin served on the Foundation Board, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus award and funded several scholarships for low income students enrolling into UNC Charlotte with a track record of academic excellence.

“Students who can look up to the names on this building and know that they too can make a difference, that they too can aspire to be the Karen Popps and Demon Martins of the future,” said former UNC System President Erskine Bowles.

The Exponential Celebration is part of a week of events to commemorate 70 years of UNC Charlotte, many of which were interrupted by student protests. Dubois lead a moment of silence for the Scott family, the man wounded in Uptown during protests Wednesday night, and the injured law enforcement officers at the event.

Johnson commented on the student led protest that occurred Tuesday.

“If students are not protesting, they probably ought not be here because this is where they’re growing, this is where they’re learning. They’ve done it so respectfully,” said Johnson.

Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Her work has been published in Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book at her home in Oak Island. Reach her at community@ninertimes.com or @alexsands_.